In 2018, the Kansas Legislature legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp. But growing hemp is challenging – from equipment and license requirements to managing markets and aphids. Still, a group of Kansas hemp farmers is growing hemp, and they want to share their experiences with others.
The Kansas Hemp Consortium is a group interested in helping hemp-related businesses. In 2021, it received a SARE grant to test six hemp varieties with Kansas farmers in different growing climates and soil types across various parts of Kansas. In 2022, they received a follow-up SARE grant to provide farmers with recommended genetics, planting techniques, and guidance through changing regulations.
They are collecting data on seed sourcing, genetics, planting dates and techniques, precipitation, fertilization, pest pressure, weed management, harvest techniques, yields, and plant characteristics.
So far, the Kansas Hemp Consortium has hosted several public events to increase awareness and industry knowledge of industrial hemp. These collaborative efforts pulled together industry experts from Kansans for Hemp, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University, and other organizations.
As they work to build a knowledge bank for hemp production in Kansas and the central plains, they also want to share what they've learned. Their "Kansas Industrial Hemp Planting Best Practices Guide" includes information on regulations, seasonal timing, genetics, equipment, and environmental conditions.
"Today, little information is available for hemp producers to make decisions," said Stephens. "The farmers and respective farms involved in these projects hope to promote the growth of the industrial hemp industry in Kansas."
Want more information? See the related SARE grants:
- KS Fiber Hemp Variety Trials (FNC21-1307)
- Increasing Industrial Hemp Acreage for Fiber and Grain with Planting Best Practices & Recommendations (ONC22-105)